Industry: Electronics/ product design
Benefits of 3D Printing:
- Rapid prototyping
- Low development costs
- Fast time to market
print+ is a DIY headphone kit that you 3D print at home. It's upgradeable and low-cost, giving consumers a great product for a fair price. The project was started in 2015 by Patrick Schuur, who started the venture on Kickstarter. The aim of the project is to create fully modular products you can print at home. The first product line is the print+ headphone kit we see today.
The Kickstarter project was, of course, a success. It didn't attract hundreds of thousands in investment like some projects do, but it raised €28,834 with 572 backers - more than enough to get started.
print+ is a modular product line that you 3D print at home. It allows consumers to make and customise their own products. The casings, housings, covers and frame are printed at home. Because some of the components are 3D printed locally, fewer products need to be shipped. This means reduced manufacturing costs and reduced environmental impact.
With the print+ headphone kit, you 3D print five components at home. Those components are as follows:
2. Speaker covers
3. Remote parts
3. Left speaker housing
5. Right speaker housing
Here's what the printable parts look like:
The unprintable parts, such as the speakers, remote circuit board and remote cable, are provided in the form of a DIY kit. You order the kit online and print the remaining components at home. Once assembled, what you have is a functional, great-sounding pair of headphones that you made yourself.
The components were designed in CAD and developed using the Ultimaker 2+ and Ultimaker 3 3D printers. These Fused Filament Fabrication 3D printers are among the very best on the market today. They produce accurate parts and deliver a reliable, consistent 3D printing experience. However, the print+ kit is printable on any FFF 3D printer and all the 3D files are free. You just have to download them from the print.plus website.
Headphones are an individualised product. Like a pair of trainers, everybody has their own taste. Thankfully, the print+ project is as much about customisation as it is opening up manufacturing to people at home.
There's 21 different colours to choose from with the unprintable parts you get in the DIY kit, and you can choose any colour thermoplastic you like for the printable components. The result is a product with unlimited customisation. You can mix and match colours to create headphones that are unique, or go simple to fly under the radar. It's completely up to you.
3D printing for product design
It's important to note that while the print+ project relies on 3D printing to be, 3D printing was also used to design the product in the first place in-house. Within hours of designing components in CAD, the print+ team had real-life versions of components and were easily able to discuss designs and prototypes. Redesigning parts was achieved at minimal cost and the team were able to play with new ideas in days rather than the weeks it would take with outsourcing.
As Patrick notes, "3D printing shortens the development cycle and increases the quality of the end result because you can iterate faster in less time." We'd also add that it reduces risk by allowing you to test a design before it goes into production (or in this case, before the 3D files are released to the public).
If you enjoyed this story, we invite you to read the original case study on the Ultimaker website. We also invite you to check out the official print+ website for more information. Links are provided below.
3D Printer: Ultimaker 3D printers.